HOARD at The Dowse

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Hoard is a bookcase and library ladder salvaged from a used-book shop that closed its doors in 2015. The shelves are packed with gilded volumes, displayed with the gold edges facing outwards.

Hoard credit Seb Clarke

It is a continuation of the series On Jewelleryness, which investigates the properties and power of jewellery. None of the works features physical jewellery forms; instead they aim to offer gallery-goers an encounter that leaves them feeling somehow bejewelled or enriched.

This piece uses scale, reflected light, the allure of gold and the worn beauty of used books. It is lit for maximum glow, so as to radiate warmth and invitation:

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Its aim is to be a feast for the eyes which can be enjoyed by anybody.

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About gilding

From the 19th century,  the pages of valued books – literature, poetry, Bibles, prayer books, some reference works – were gilded, ie edged with gold leaf. Aside from the aesthetic benefits, this protected the paper from dust, damp and the effects of use:


The treatment is itself quite delicate though, so these books now showcase not only the painstaking craft work of the gilder but also the marks of readers’ handling over time:

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Working with the books

Once highly-prized, these casualties of the digital age can now be found languishing in op shops or piled on trestles at Lions and Rotary book fairs up and down the land.

Over the last 2 years I have snatched nearly 1,000 of them from the jaws of recycling (any I miss are pulped for egg-boxes..). To fund my hoarding habit I have worked extra shifts, skimped on wine, sold clothes and cannibalised my own actual library, exchanging good condition specimens for store credit in used-book shops.

By rescuing and arranging them I have added my own hand to their story, giving them another day in the sun, whilst simultaneously ‘unbooking’ them; the subject matter and genre have become irrelevant. (I did once find myself coming back from a book fair on the train with practically my own weight in books in my bags, and thinking – Damn! didn’t bring anything to read…). Selected only for their gold, then massed and packed according to size, they have undergone a double translation – from object to material and back again, with a twist.














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